Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2017/ Writing Into the Void

Writing Into the Void

Lately I have been writing calls to action on this blog. Mostly I do it to assuage my own guilt about remaining silent about issues that are important to me. But it does not assuage the guilt, and the outreach is ineffective.

Writing pieces for this blog requires splitting my beliefs into factions. One faction has to believe that I am writing this blog for myself, and that nobody else will read it. Otherwise I would be too self-conscious to write anything at all. A second faction has to believe that everybody (the NSA, employers, my mother) reads this blog, so that I do not write something that will really get me in trouble. A third faction has to believe that I have a readership. Otherwise why bother publishing when I could just write textfiles on my computer (or better yet not write anything)?

In reality I suspect I have a small readership, but I do not know how small it is. Three people? Five? Twenty? I am sometimes tempted by analytics, but am fairly limited in my ability to collect them even if I was willing to. My web host provides weblog states, but only for one day's worth of access, and I do not even know how to access those logs in a systematic way. I could probably insert some Javascript tracking device on the blog, and maybe one day I will, but not today.

Back when I had a Facebook account, I tried pushing my RSS feed to my Facebook page via a bridging service (Twitterbridge, maybe?). That bridge broke after a while and I never fixed it, but while it was running I would occasionally look at the metrics. They were disappointing -- 3-5 impressions per blog post -- and they made me want to tailor my content to get more clicks. That is a bad road to take.

I expect that if I did track visitors I would be similarly disappointed. Most of this blog has been for nought.

Why do I bother writing?

I could accomplish the first three goals without publishing to the Internet. I cannot accomplish the last four without a readership. (EDIT: Chris Frey suggests an additional reason: "Because I want a friend or partner interested in the same things." I plead guilty.)

Mind, a couple of my tech posts have concretely helped people. I know this because strangers have written me notes of gratitude for them. Tech posts would probably be good for my reputation, but they are few and far between. For one thing they take many times longer to write than blathery posts. For another I only want to write tech posts when I believe they fill a niche more high-profile websites do not. But maybe that is a mistake too. It helps me a lot to read what other people are struggling through technologically. Thus I should write more as I struggle through things everybody else knows.

In contrast, my blathery posts are terrible for my reputation. I guess I care more about this blog than I do about being employable. Certainly I care more about this blog than I do about certain family relationships, given that I have cut off certain family relationships due to this blog.

Much of the time I feel as if I am writing into the void. I push thoughts onto the Internet, and they evaporate. My ego does not like that. My ego wants adulation. Somebody needs to tell my ego that silence is better. Having suffered through user comments on my old Livejournal, I know that silence is better than interaction. But still I crave interaction. That is a bad reason to blog.

On the one hand this website may be the most meaningful thing in my life. On the other it is utterly irrelevant. Every entry takes a lot of time and energy, and for what?